A Traditional State of Mind
I’ve always been elated when learning about Native Americans and their cultural simplicity. Since the beginning of time, the indigenous people of North America have affirmed that human kind is forever in debt to nature and everything the world has given us, be it the hide of a bear, the waters of the ocean, or the voluminous, exquisite meadows and woodlands the Natives inhabited. Following the destructive genocide of the Native Americans, the Europeans occupying North America failed to preserve the Native Americans’ way of life.
Unlike the Native Americans, the new populace of North America thought of the earth as “man’s personal property … placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished” (Thomas 5). Our world is not a commodity to be bought or sold, nor is it merely a range of items to be manipulated and taken for granted. We must all be attentive to our earth and let ourselves nurture its abundance of strength and prosperity, so that we may establish an enduring, fulfilling life on the earth itself. It was very conventional for the Native Americans to demonstrate appreciative rituals when they felt as though the earth had given them the sustenance they needed for survival. When the Native Americans would kill an animal for nourishment and supplies, they always made certain that the carcass was utilized to the tribe’s ultimate benefit and that none of the animal went to waste.
I give praise to these humble human beings for having such resourceful and conservative traits, attributes that are seldom seen in the people of our twenty-first century society. In a way, Native American insight of the natural world formed a type of primitive recycling. When an animal was killed, the natives made certain that each body part would be used for an important purpose. They would skin the hide off animals for clothing and shelter, use the bones as tools, and eat as much of the meat as they possibly could. Once the Native Americans had used the majority of the carcass, they would thank the earth for providing them all they needed to survive. In our world today, humans are too distracted and narcissistic to truly love and appreciate the earth for what it truly is.
Most people have the luxury of being oblivious to where our food, shelter, and clothing come from. Many don’t even care to know or find out, and many more have never had an experience with pure nature or the wilderness. As Rick Bass states in “A Texas Childhood,” “Without wilderness, we ultimately become less human. Whether we like it or hate it or are indifferent is beside the point; we need it” (15). It should be obvious that because we need nature, we must act with respect and dignity towards it.
The Native Americans placed confidence in their belief that the natural world has infinite value and that it is immoral to think of land as a proprietary element. When the colonists suggested a trade for the Natives’ land, the Natives were bewildered by this notion, for they would never put a price on the tenderness the land had shown their people. The fact that the Natives thought they were mutually intertwined with nature is an astounding thought and I firmly believe it is an idea all mankind should live by. When nature is revered and flourishing, doesn’t it give the impression of a jubilant world? If humans change their selfish ways and decide to care more for the earth, our world will take care of us. This will start a cycle of love between humans and our earth.
Having love for nature does not take any particular skills, nor does it suggest disconnecting yourself from the modern world. If everyone could keep distractions of contemporary society to a minimum, they would discover that life is much more fulfilling when the natural world occupies the majority of a human being’s life. With advancements in technology and lifestyle constantly surrounding us, it can sometimes be difficult to revert back to our ancestors’ love for nature. Nature is a major part of our world, whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not. Contrary to what most people would like to believe, everything we have comes from nature: the heart of our world. During the primitive time of the Native Americans, living off the land was an essential part of survival.
We are not as aware of the value of nature as our ancestors were because now we earn all of our necessities with money and most of us can barely relate to the daily struggles Native Americans were faced with. Mankind needs to be reminded of its heritage and how interconnected its ancestors felt with the nature world, for our hope of being fully human is diminishing as we drift away from our origin. When united with nature, a person tends to be more reflective and humble. If we were able to associate ourselves more deeply with our ancestors, we would feel more appreciative with what we have, opposed to the appetite for expendable possessions most people feel within themselves. As modern people are dragged further away from their origins, gluttony, greed, and pride become part of their identity.
Native Americans were too content with their simple lives to feel anything but love for nature. In order to live a pure life, we must all set our selfishness aside and learn to nurture the earth the way our ancestors did.